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Life

Here’s how you stay positive…

Words by Rob Chilton

Michael Serwa is one of the world’s leading life coaches. EDGAR spoke to the Polish-born expert about his elite clients who pay him big bucks to help them stay positive and find happiness in their lives

Let’s start with 3 tips to become a more positive and happier person

  1. “If somebody is stressed it can impact their sleep. Learn how to meditate. Take a course or use an app like Calm or Headspace, which are easy ways to learn.”
  2. “Start your day by watching a 10-minute motivation video on YouTube. Don’t watch the news, its all negativity – not what you want to hear. Help yourself to create a positive state of mind.”
  3. “Do some form of exercise. It’s stress release. You achieve a better body, higher energy levels and you produce endorphins.”

 

A little over six years ago Michael Serwa was living in a squat in London, having travelled to England from his native Poland on an overnight bus. Now he has an office on Savile Row, wears a Rolex and has a client list packed with enormously wealthy and successful people who excel at the top level of business and politics.

He’s not your average Joe.

Cheerful, polite and charming, Serwa’s enthusiasm is infectious. He manages to stay on the right side of that precariously fine line between confidence and arrogance. He’s likeable. If you were going to spend thousands of dirhams sitting opposite him once a week for months you’d certainly be entertained.

Serwa has around 200 consultations per year with prospective clients and can handle 30 clients at any one time to which he is utterly devoted. His job is his life (more on that later). Serwa, 35, takes his job incredibly seriously, but he makes it clear that he wants to enjoy himself while doing it.

“Clients I take on have to be fun,” he tells EDGAR from his office in London. “If I make 10 jokes during our first meeting and the client doesn’t laugh at any of them it’s probably not going to work. I don’t edit myself. I want to be myself and I want to have fun. I see my clients as friends, I have close relationships with them because my work is very intimate. I don’t want to be intimate with someone I don’t like.

“I don’t care how much money they make,” he adds. “If a guy has made his millions stealing from people I don’t want to work with him. They need to be committed. If they’re not willing to work hard I don’t want to know. I’m looking for people who inspire me.”

how to stay positive

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At the first meeting Serwa asks clients to grade their lives, scoring themselves in 25 areas of their lives such as love, career, motivation, weight and confidence on a scale of one to 10, one being unsatisfied to 10 feeling satisfied. The last category on the list is general happiness. “The funny thing is that nine times out of 10 this final score is the exact average of all the other scores,” says Serwa.

“People ask me what is the secret to happiness. There is no secret! Happiness depends on how satisfied you are in other areas of life. If you’re satisfied, you’re happy. It’s so simple.”

As well as the happiness scoresheet, Serwa also spends the first meeting assessing his potential client. “I’m scanning them, evaluating them, reading them,” he explains. “I need to make a decision if I want to work with them. They do the same with me.”

Most of Serwa’s clients are “older, highly respected and accomplished,” he says – and very successful. He’s worked with two presidential candidates, but won’t reveal what country they’re from. Somebody who’s in a bad place in their lives is not someone who will benefit from Serwa’s skills.

“Let’s separate life coaching from therapy,” he explains. “I don’t work with dysfunctional people. Life coaching is designed for people who want to go from the functional to the exceptional level. Typically I work with people who already score themselves from eight to 10.”

Stereotypically, high-powered, wealthy, successful people are not the kind of characters who find it easy to admit weakness and ask for help.

“Yes and no,” says Serwa. “Actually, most CEOs do have experience of life coaching, especially in America where it’s becoming more and more acceptable. When people started having personal trainers in the gym years ago we found it strange, but now people brag about their trainer. In my lifetime I hope life coaching will reach a similar status. Nobody is hiding this anymore.”

However, for some, life coaching is still a taboo subject. “I do encounter people who want to keep it a secret,” says Serwa. “One client didn’t tell his wife he was seeing a life coach and it took him three years to admit it to her. But some clients are totally open about it. One guy used to tweet he was coming to see me on the way to our meetings. His attitude was, ‘every athlete has a coach.’ For him there was absolutely no stigma.”

How much?

So let’s get down to brass tacks. What’s this going to cost? “Well, it’s not cheap,” Serwa says with surprising honesty. “I charge between £10,000 and £35,000 for sessions of between three and 12 months. I don’t charge per session. Typically most people see me for three months. I can sort most problems in three months.”

For such a sum, clients get Serwa 24/7. “Clients can WhatsApp me anytime but they can’t call me anytime. To be honest, my clients are busy people so they wouldn’t have time to call me anyway. Half of them I never hear from, but they know I’m committed. A life coach is not to be confused with a shoulder to cry on, or a babysitter.”

Serwa’s level of commitment is striking. “The trickiest period of my life is Sunday because I don’t see clients face to face,” he chuckles. “I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Holidays are tricky too, I get bored. I miss work.”

Serwa remembers a magazine article with one of his heroes, Richard Branson in which he was asked about his work/life balance. “He said work and life was one,” says Serwa. “I agree with him. I don’t dread Monday mornings. I look forward to them because I’m doing what I love.”

Is this devotion to his work healthy?

“I don’t really care what people think,” he shrugs. “Society is dumb, broke and miserable. I don’t care about society. I listen to myself. What do I want? What makes me happy? I have more fun working than not working. Nothing is more important in my life than my work.”

Does he get tired or mentally drained? He laughs at the idea. “Do I sound tired? I don’t think so. I feel alive.”

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All the way

After talking to Serwa, it becomes clear that dedicating his life to the happiness of others is a commitment that goes far beyond nine to five. But what about him? Is he happy?

“My baseline is eight and I’m very pleased with that,” he says, referring to the score system he uses in his work. “I don’t believe in 10. Nine is something I’m working towards.” The closest he’ll come to admitting he sometimes feels less than amazing is when he says, “I’m not a morning person.”

Where does his optimism come from?

“I wasn’t a shy guy, I wasn’t bullied – I don’t have a back story like that. I’ve always been confident, good with people, and optimistic. I spend time and make effort in excelling in my life. Two days ago I started a 12 week body transformation programme. I’ve told my trainer not to babysit me. I’m like a soldier. I’ll apply myself and I know I will get a six pack for the first time in my life – I’ll be ripped.”

Serwa’s office is on Savile Row in London where the rents are eye-watering. “I’m the highest paid life coach in the UK, there’s nobody else at my income level,” he says. What does he spend his money on? Fast cars? “I don’t have a driving licence,” he laughs. “I’m happy with one Rolex.” So where does it all go? Dating.

“I spend all my money on women,” he says without a flicker of embarrassment. “I’ve had a few relationships but I like the single life. I tell women at the start: don’t even try. I’m in a relationship with my work and nobody gets in the way of that.”

Life coaching skills, it would seem, are perfectly suited to be applied in the dating arena. “I learned the art of seduction and I’m extremely dangerous,” says Serwa. “I know how to talk to women and I get to date a lot of women. I put myself out there and I get rejected a lot.”

Does rejection dent Serwa’s optimism?

“I welcome rejection. But sometimes I like someone and they say no – it hurts.”

When his occupation comes up in conversations with women it can create a cooling of the atmosphere. “I was on a date once and she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a life coach. She said, ‘Are you reading me now?’ I said to her, ‘Actually, I already read you within the first 30 seconds.”

Did you see her again?

“Well… it didn’t go well. She didn’t get upset, but she was self-conscious maybe. I look at people, I see them and I see what’s really going on. It’s hard to bull**** me.”

Forget about the secret to happiness, here’s what men really want to know: how can they be more attractive to women? “Women love confidence, it’s the number one thing,” says Serwa with conviction. “I was average but I became very good. Every man can become more confident. I turn guys who are average in terms of confidence into superstars. Whether you’re an athlete or a CEO it’s very hard to accomplish anything without confidence.”

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